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Challenges in Comparative Oral Epic

John Miles Foley, Chao Gejin

Oral Tradition Volume 27, Number 2

Originally written in 2001 and subsequently published in China, this collaborative essay explores five questions central to comparative oral epic with regard to Mongolian, South Slavic, ancient Greek, and Old English traditions: “What is a poem in oral epic tradition?” “What is a typical scene or theme in oral epic tradition?” “What is a poetic line in oral epic tradition?” “What is a formula in an oral epic tradition?” “What is the register in oral epic poetry?” Now available for the first time in English, this essay reflects a foundational stage of what has become a productive and long-term collaboration between the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition and the Institute of Ethnic Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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